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Sunset over Nagasaki

Coastal Japan: Imperial Dynasties and Modern Culture

Example 15 Day Cruise aboard National Geographic Resolution
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Step back in time on a 15-day voyage into Japan’s riveting history, from the elegant shrines and merchant districts of the Meiji era in Tokyo to the poignant sites of World War II in Hiroshima to historic castle towns of the Edo period in Kobe. As you trace the shores of Honshu and the islands of the Seto Inland Sea aboard the National Geographic Resolution, venture into the homes of samurai and feudal lords and discover exquisite centuries-old gardens and temples. Take a detour to South Korea to spend a day exploring the ancient city of Gyeongju. Discover Japanese artistic traditions of the past and its vibrant present-day culture. 
Nagasaki cityHiroshima Peace Memorial or Atomic Bomb DomeMt. Fuji beyond the glittering lights of TokyoCherry blossoms frame Osaka castleNight view of Kobe Port, JapanThe rugged terrain around UwajimaSunset over Nagasaki
Highlights
  • Delve into the history of the samurai and their feudal Lords
  • Explore the rich cultural legacy of Korea’s Silla Dynasty
  • Visit museums dedicated to artists and traditional handicrafts in Matsue & Takamatsu
  • Get inspired on the art-filled island of Naoshima
  • Meander through the three unique Japanese gardens
Places Visited
Activity Level: Relaxed
Involves minimal physical effort and is typically associated with leisurely activities. Activities are low-intensity or last less than a few hours each day.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Tokyo, Japan

  • 1 Dinner
Depart on an overnight flight to Tokyo and transfer to your hotel, located steps from the lively Ginza district.

Day 2: Tokyo

  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Enjoy a full day to get to know this vibrant city, the capital of Japan since the Meiji Restoration in 1868. Visit Meiji Jingu, a Shinto shrine dedicated to Emperor Meiji, who brought an end to Japan’s long feudal period. Visit the Edo-Tokyo Museum, then meander through the historic Asakusa neighborhood around Tokyo’s oldest temple, Senso-ji. Gather tonight for a welcome dinner.

Day 3: Tokyo | Niigata

Zip north on Japan’s famous bullet train to Niigata, a port city on Honshu’s northwestern coast where the National Geographic Resolution awaits. Settle into your cabin as you take to the Sea of Japan.

Day 4: Kanazawa

Step into Old Japan in Kanazawa, once a powerful city ruled by the Maeda clan. Stroll past the lovely wooden homes of the samurai in the Naga-machi district, where the streets are intentionally narrow and winding to confuse enemies. Then explore the geisha and teahouse district of Higashi Chaya Machi. Next, wander the pathways of Kenroku-en, one of Japan’s designated “three best landscape gardens,” established in 1676 by the Maeda family and developed over 150 years.

Day 5: Matsue

Follow the coast west to Matsue, situated between a lake, a lagoon, and the sea. Tour the 17th-century Matsue Castle built as a defensive fortress, and discover its clever design elements intended to foil the enemy. Continue to the Adachi Museum of Art, which blends an impressive collection of 20th-century Japanese art with a gem-like traditional garden.

Day 6: Hagi

In the castle town of Hagi, known for its fine ceramic arts, tour the historic district, once home to wealthy merchants and samurai. Stroll past serene rows of stone lanterns at the town’s two Zen Buddhist temples, where the feudal lords of the powerful Mori clan were laid to rest. This afternoon, chart the course for the Korean Peninsula.

Day 7: Ulsan, South Korea | Gyeongju

Dock in Ulsan, and travel to Gyeongju, the ancient capital of the Silla kingdom and the crown jewel of Korea’s cultural heritage. Packed with the ruins of temples, pagodas, and palaces dating back more than a thousand years, the historic areas of the city have been collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit Bulguksa Temple, a masterpiece of Silla architecture originally built in 528 A.D. At the Gyeongju National Museum, examine jewelry, weapons, and other Silla artifacts. See Cheomseongdae, a seventh-century observatory, and wander among towering royal burial mounds.

Day 8: Nagasaki, Japan

Long before World War II, Nagasaki was a cosmopolitan trading center, drawing merchants from Europe and China to its picturesque harbor as early as the 1500s. Visit Oura Cathedral, the oldest Christian church in Japan, and venture into Sofukuji, a 400-year-old Ming-style Zen Buddhist temple. Visit Nagasaki Peace Park, where a poignant exhibition illustrates the aftermath of the atomic bomb drop on the city, and see the somber monument erected at ground zero.

Day 9: Kagoshima

At the southern end of Kyushu, the city of Kagoshima sits just across the bay from the active volcano Sakurajima. Take a walk in Sengan-en Garden, designed by the city’s ruling Shimadzu clan in 1658 to incorporate the bay and its simmering volcano. After lunch, travel along the Satsuma Peninsula to the village of Chiran, where the samurai designed gardens inspired by their travels.

Day 10: Yakushima Island

The diverse ecology of Yakushima Island, including a subtropical coast and temperate rainforest in the interior, has earned this island's World Heritage status. On a hike, discover the island’s ancient yakusugi cedar trees, many of which date back more than a thousand years. Your ship turns north toward the island of Shikoku this evening.

Day 11: Uwajima | Uchiko

Rise early for a morning hike to Uwajima Castle, one of just 12 original Edo-period castles that remain intact. Continue to Uchiko, once a center of wax production. Take a walk in the town’s well-preserved Yokaichi district, where beautifully crafted wooden merchant homes recall the prosperity of the Meiji period.

Day 12: Miyajima | Hiroshima

Start the day on the island of Miyajima, home of Itsukushima Shrine, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its red torii gate that seems to float atop the water at high tide. In Hiroshima, visit the Peace Memorial Park. See the A-Bomb Dome, one of only a few buildings left standing after the attack, and learn about the city’s dedication to peace following World War II.

Day 13: Naoshima | Takamatsu

The small island of Naoshima was transformed from a dwindling community to a vibrant art center by Benesse Holdings, which began inviting artists and architects to create a hub for the arts in the early 1990s. Discover the island’s cutting-edge creations, from an underground museum designed by renowned architect Tadao Ando to the famous polka-dotted pumpkins of Yayoi Kusama. After lunch, cross to Takamatsu on Shikoku Island. Explore Shikoku Mur, an open-air museum that showcases traditional building styles. End the day at the Noguchi Garden Museum, which features the sculptures and workshop of Japanese-American artist Isamu Noguchi.

Day 14: Okayama | Kurashiki

Dock in Okayama and head for your second of Japan’s “three best landscape gardens”: Koraku-en. Wander paths that wind along forest streams and past traditional teahouses tucked amid maple and cherry trees. See the black-walled Okayama Castle, before continuing to the former shipping center of Kurashiki, where centuries-old rice granaries line a lovely canal. Browse local handicrafts, and visit the renowned Ohara Museum of Art and the 18th-century Ohashi House.

Day 15: Kobe | Osaka | Home

  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch
This morning disembark in Kobe. Pay a visit to 17th-century Himeji Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage known as the White Heron Castle. After lunch, transfer to the airport in Osaka for your flight home.

Ship/Hotel

National Geographic Resolution

National Geographic Resolution ship
NG Resolution Dining
NG Resolution Bar

Dates & Prices

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Deals

Solo Adventure Savings 24720
Calling independent travelers! 

Book by June 27, 2024, and save up to 33% on solo cabin prices for trips to destinations like Antarctica, New Zealand, and more. If solo cabins are fully booked, opt to share a double occupancy cabin with another guest, and pay discounted solo cabin rate. Valid for new bookings only, subject to availability, may not be combined with other offers, and is not applicable on airfare or extensions. Additional restrictions may apply. Please contact us for details.
Applicable to select 2024 and 2025 departures.

Per person starting at
$26,670 2-3 travelers

Please confirm embark/disembark locations before reserving flights, as this itinerary operates in reverse on alternating departures.
 
Rates are subject to change without notice. Book early to get the best rate.
Cabin
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Category 1
Fore Deck with two large windows, Alcove seating, Relax chair 183 square ft. #406, 408, 411, 413, 415. Standard Cabin Amenities
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Category 2
Fore Deck with two large windows, Alcove seating, Relax chair 205 square ft. #410, 412, 414, 416-419, 421-427
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Category 3
Main Deck—Suite with balcony and sofa 205 square ft. #512-524
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Category 4
Lounge Deck—Suite with balcony and sofa, 205 square ft. #608, 610, 612, 613-623 Standard Cabin Amenities
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Category 5
Bridge Deck—Suite with balcony and sofa 205 square ft. #708, 709, 711, 713
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Category 6
Bridge Deck—Junior Balcony Suite with large balcony, sofa bed 344 square ft. #710
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Category 7
Bridge Deck—Large Balcony Suite with large balcony, sofa bed, bathtub, walk-in closet 430 square ft. #700-707, 712, 714-717
Cabin
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Category A Solo
Main Deck—Suite with balcony and sofa 140 square ft. #504-510, 513
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Category B Solo
Lounge Deck—Suite with balcony and sofa 140 square ft. #604, 606, 609, 611
Included
  • 14 Breakfasts, 14 Lunches, 14 Dinners
  • 13 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Complimentary Parka - available only for the duration of the voyage.
  • Assistance by the onboard National Geographic Photography Expert
  • Beer, wine, cocktails, and spirits aboard the ship. We are also pleased to offer a selection of super premium wines and liquors that are available for purchase.
  • Crew gratuities
  • Complimentary Starlink-enabled Wi-Fi internet is available to all guests aboard Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic fleet, enabling email, messaging, and social media.
  • Park and site entrance fees, special access permits, and port taxes
  • Excursions, hotels, and airport transfers, as indicated in the itinerary 
  • Selection of exploration tools curated to your destination, such as Zodiacs and glass-bottom boats, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, snorkeling equipment (including wetsuits, masks, and fins), and other state-of-the-art gear
  • Guidance and company of leading expedition staff
  • All meals as indicated in the itinerary, both aboard and onshore. Meals are inspired by regional cuisine and locally sourced where possible
  • Hors d’oeuvres inspired by regional cuisine and locally sourced where possible
  • 24-hour access to snacks, premium coffees and teas, non-alcoholic beverages, and filtered water
  • Presentations on your destination by expedition staff and expert guest speakers
  • Complimentary reusable water bottle to fill at onboard water refill stations
  • The services of a physician, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, or paramedic  where available
  • Morning stretch classes and 24-hour access to exercise equipment where available
  • 24-hour access to lounges, observation decks, library stocked with regionally relevant literature, and other shared spaces 
  • Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic certified photo instructor
Excluded
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Laundry, spa treatments, scuba diving, Wi-Fi and phone services (except when indicated as included)
  • We strongly recommend our guests to take Travel Protection Plan. A Plan with comprehensive coverage to protect you from cancellation fees, costs incurred due to trip delays/interruption, damaged or lost baggage, medical assistance, and evacuation during your travels
  • Airfare (except flights when indicated as included), pre- and post-expedition extensions, additional hotel nights, and private transfers (except when indicated as included)
  • Travel protection plans and passport, visa, and immigration fees 
  • Enhanced and premium Wi-Fi plans, which may enable video chat, web browsing, and streaming (connectivity permitting)

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